Kuala Lumpur is an eclectic mix of the chaos of Bangkok to the north and the order of Singapore to the south. Edginess, mischief and adventure can be found in Kuala Lumpur if you look hard enough but the chilled local vibe is never far away. It is safe to say we plumped for the latter. Malaysia is like a mix tape collecting all the different parts of South East Asia and mashing them all together. Every type of person here blends in to make Malaysia what it is, a multi-cultural hub of goodness.
You can enjoy sensational views from the top of the KL Tower at night and the Petronas Towers during the day which gets you a bird’s eye view of the city, one of the best views I have seen. Shopping malls are connected by walk ways above ground level. The Kuala Lumpur metro systems are above you, at street level and beneath you so you have a plethora of options to choose from. Street food is available around every corner with cheap eats easy to find. What a great start to our trip, here is a little more.
Our base at Reggae Mansion, on the edge of Chinatown, warns you as you go in that this is a party hostel and they were right. Pumping music until 3am, free drinks promotions and even free meal promotions plays right in to the backpacker’s hands to get the party started. Although I haven’t travelled for a while I have not forgotten what the backpacker unwritten codes are but I had forgotten that some people just don’t seem to abide by them. Having purposely booked a four-bed dorm, I instantly thought this would be a gentle start with not too many people to spoil our hostel experience but if so maybe enough time for them to leave. Less people, less things to go wrong or annoy us. How wrong we were.
Having had an overnight flight with no sleep we were jet lagged and ready to see out the day as best as we could but getting to sleep early was inevitable. Of course, we are aware at this hostel people would be out till late and would come back most probably drunk, that’s fine but awareness seems to be rare. Not only on our first night were our two dorm friends turning the light on at 3am (A BIG NO NO), one of them decides to bring someone back to have sex with right next to us. Not only is this annoying with the sounds belting out from that pod, it meant we couldn’t recover from our flight. After a shaky start were quickly realise these young backpackers were here to party and were sleeping during the day and out at night. The second night the other one comes back with someone to have sex with, louder this time. These were young people first time travelling and they have a lot to learn but I do have sympathy (albeit little) with them but people not as tolerant as us will tell them how it is. I hope they are ready.
Enough about young backpackers in dorms! The city of Kuala Lumpur is easy to navigate around with your options of five types of metro systems, buses, taxis and walking. By far the best way to see it all is by walking. We walked miles around the centre of this city. Firstly, we checked out the Petronas Towers and booked our ticket for later in the day. We didn’t realise, but they quickly sell out but luckily, we got the last two tickets for that day. Even tickets for the following morning were sold out so my first tip would be to book in advance and don’t just turn up like we did and hope to get lucky. The area around the towers consists of a massive shopping mall, the lovely KLCC park and plenty of cafes to get stuck in to. On this lush hot day, we walked around the park taking photo snaps of the iconic towers and taking it all in. Once on the sky bridge of the Petronas Towers we could see even more of the city and how it is built and connected, it truly is a great sight. Even better is the sight at the top of these towers at 83 floors high, it amazes you how man can build such a thing. Not great if you don’t like heights but in my opinion, this is a must.
Having decided that the day view was cracking we thought how about the night view? To conquer this, we booked ourselves in for a night time viewing at the observation deck at the top of the KL Tower. This was about a 15-minute walk from our hostel so was easy to get too. As good as the day view is, there is something spectacular about night time viewing from a big height. We could see the dazzling lights of the buildings and cars for miles, we were engrossed. For around £11 this is great value for part of an evening out. A tip for this little trip is to not pay for the open observatory right at the top as the observation deck is high enough.
We loved walking around the various markets such as Central Market, Flea Market and the food markets such as Jalan Alor to get a taste for that local vibe and get that great value street food. All the knocked off clothing is available to barter at if you are willing to take on the local market trader, one tip is stick to your very low price and walk away, they soon call you back. Having walked to the Botanical Gardens which was a trek in the hot conditions on our last day we realised that you must pay to go in but you can walk or ride around the middle of it. Not ideal but at least we got to see the National Mosque which was an impressive viewing from the outside as non-believers were not allowed in on that day.
Unexpectedly, on our second night at the hostel, whilst on the rooftop bar we heard rumours of a fire. We leant over the edge and a building was properly on fire, all the services were called and it was dealt with very quickly. Never seen fire up close and angry like that before, scary!
Overall our stay in Kuala Lumpur was brilliant as we ticked off all the sights on our list, experienced hostels again and got stuck in to some local food. Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot of different religions, culture, food and way of life. You can really find anything you want. We felt on our third night we were ready to move on to Borneo but were in agreement that Kuala Lumpur has heaps to offer and is a must-see city in South East Asia and a great starting point for any future travels around this part of the world.